IOC president Bach refuses to...


IOC president Bach refuses to contemplate cancellation of Tokyo Olympics

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International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach says they're fully committed to the Tokyo 2020 games starting on time. 

He claims speculation that the games could be cancelled is harmful to athletes.

However, Bach could not guarantee that there will be spectators present when the postponed games get underway on July 23.

Last week the IOC were forced into denying a Times report that claimed the Japanese government were privately resigned to the games being cancelled.

And Bach has doubled down, saying they are not even considering the prospect that the Olympic Games could be cancelled.

"All these speculations are hurting the athletes," he told an online press conference, "In their preparations, who have already to overcome the challenges in their daily training and competition with all the restrictions they are facing either in their country or generally.

We are not speculating on whether the games are taking place, we are working on how the games will take place

"There is speculation about cancellation, about a 'Plan B', about everything.

"Some even make the proposal to postpone the Tokyo Olympic Games until 2032. I want to said 'good luck' if you would have to discuss this with an athlete who is preparing for the Olympic Games 2021.

"There are some proposals to move it to another city which, everybody who knows about the complexity of an Olympic Games, is not possible in such a short period of time.

"For all these reasons, we are not losing all our time and energy on speculations. But we are fully concentrating on the opening ceremony on the 23rd of July this year.

"We are not speculating on whether the games are taking place, we are working on how the games will take place.

"That means we have to put COVID counter-measures together for every possible scenario.

"In this, we are relying on the advice of all the different authorities - the Japanese government, the health authorities, the World Health Organisation. We are talking with the manufacturers of vaccines, all the experts.

"From these consultations we can conclude that it is too early to tell which of the many COVID counter-measures will finally be the appropriate one when it comes time to the games.

"We just have to ask for patience and understanding."

Earlier this week, four-time Olympic gold medalist Mo Farah claimed that athletes heading to Tokyo will all receive a vaccination before landing in Japan.

His claim has led many to cry foul that healthy athletes would be jumping the queue for vaccines ahead of those more in need.

But Bach insists that will not be the case.

"We always have made it clear," he said, "That we are not in favour of athletes jumping the queue. This we said already in November last year.

"First in line must be the high-risk group, the health care workers, and the people who keep our society alive.

"That is the first priority, and this is a principle we have established."

But Bach added, "We said the National Olympic Committees should turn to their national governments to have as many as possible being vaccinated.

"But a vaccination - as we always said from the very beginning - is not the silver bullet which solves all the problems.

"It is part of the measures, and as such it will be put in this 'tool box'.

"Of course we are encouraging everybody to accept a vaccination - out of not only for their own interest, to be safe - but also to be in solidarity with the Japanese people, and in solidarity with their fellow Olympians and fellow Olympic participants.

A recent opinion poll of Japanese people found that almost 80 per cent wanted the Olympic and Paralympic games to be postponed again or cancelled.

But Bach isn't paying any heed to opinion polls, saying, "I think they are coming one every day in Japan.

"I can only repeat what I said from the very beginning.

"From a human point of view I can understand everybody who has concerns about [the] Olympic Games when he or she is living in a lockdown.

"[I understand that for a person] that does not know whether you can go to a restaurant, or to see your friends or your family. That in these circumstances it is extremely difficult to imagine Olympic Games.

"I have all understanding. But the responsibility of the government and the IOC is to look beyond these situations.

"We have many good reasons to say it's not about the whether the games are taking place, it's about the how."

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